Bonjour, mes amis!
Like many people, France has always been on my bucket list. The language! The food! The romance! Basically everything that you see in the movies- I wanted to experience it all. While it was definitely on my list, France had always seemed like a distant notion. It was a distant notion until one day I woke up and decided, “I’m going to Paris.” I bought my ticket the next day and boarded a plane to Paris four weeks later. It was everything I thought it would be and then some! Paris is the only place in France that I’ve been so far, so my perspective will just be from the capital city. Thinking about making a trip to the most romantic city on earth? Here’s some tips on how to do it:
Why Paris, France?
Almost everyone is familiar with Paris. It’s so idealized in media that we all probably feel like we’ve already been there in some way. While you’ve probably already heard of these attractions, here are some of the top things to do when you actually go:
- Eiffel Tower– Isn’t this the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Paris? Trust me when I tell you that pictures don’t do it justice. Built in 1887, the tower is one of the most notable landmarks in the world. You are able to go to the top for only 17 Euros, but expect a crowd and a wait. If heights aren’t your thing and you decide to stay at the bottom, there is a beautiful park down below where you can relax and have lunch and people watch. Over 250 million visit the tower every year- this year YOU should be one of them.
- The Louvre- If you’re a lover of art and culture, this is a must on your Paris trip. The Louvre is home to the kind of magnificent, famous works of art that we learn about in school, like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. This is the biggest museum in the world so expect to spend a couple of hours getting lost in culture. Admission is only 15 euros, but if you are in the city during the months of October to March, the museum is free on the first Sunday of each month.
- Arc de Triomphe (Champs-Elysees)– This is another famous monument that is a must-see when you’re in Paris. It’s located at the end of the famous Champs-Elysees, and it is a truly grand sight to see. But it’s not only a photo opp- there’s an elevator that can take you to a museum at the top. Along Champs-Elysees are tons of cafes, theaters, and affordable and luxury stores for you to shop as much as your heart desires.
Planning your Parisian Vacation
Where should you fly into?
- Charles de Gaulle (CDG)- This is Paris’ busiest airport, and it takes most of Paris’ international traffic. It is located 45 min from central Paris. It’s large and has easy access to public transportation that will take you to your destination. Expect to spend about $10 for a train ticket out of the airport. I recommend flying into this airport.
- Orly (ORY)– This airport is about 30 min from the city’s central, but does not take as much international travel as CDG. This airport also a complimentary train shuttle service.
Where should you stay?
If you read some of my blog posts, you’d know that I’m a hostel kind of girl. I love being able to live closely with other travelers from all over the world, and I love that I spend very little money for a place to stay. But I know everyone isn’t too keen on hostel living, so here are other options:
- The Four Seasons, The Ritz, Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris– For those that only travel with best, these are great options for you. Each of these hotels are 5 star hotels that are centrally located. They come with all the amenities and everything else that you would expect a 5 star hotel to have, including the price tag. These hotels will run you upwards of 1000 euros/night.
- Central Hotel Paris, Hotel Saint Germain, Hotel Residence Foch– These are all 3 star hotels that are top ranked by Trip Advisor. They are all modern, centrally located hotels with a price range of $82-$200/night.
- Plug-Inn Hostel– This is the hostel that I stayed in, and I absolutely loved it. It cost about $35/night, had free wifi, and an incredibly friendly staff. It is located in the Montmartre part of the city close to museums, great restaurants, outdoor cafes, theaters, nightlife, and the Moulin Rouge. Private rooms are available, but shared rooms are four travelers to a room with a bathroom with a shower. If you’d like to do some of your own cooking, there’s even a kitchen downstairs. While it is close to a metro stop, be warned that it is a bit of a 10 minute hike up a steep hill lined with shops and cafes to get to the hostel. (TIP: if you stay here, you HAVE to eat around the corner at Le Zebre de Montmartre- it’s fantastic!)
Things to Know:
- Language– French is the national language of France, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try to learn some key French phrases to try to get around. A lot of people speak English, but many people don’t, so be prepared with being able to say the basics. Download the French language cheat sheet under “Travel Tips.”
- Currency– The Euro is the currency of France. You can exchange your money at the airport when you arrive. The euro is slightly stronger than the dollar which means that you will spend slightly more money on things than you would here in the U.S. Currently the conversion rate is 1 euro = 1.18 USD.
- Weather– Fortunately, the weather is similar to weather here in the States. November- January are the coldest months. The temperatures peak in July and August. May tends to be slightly rainy, but not so rainy that it will spoil your trip.
- Transportation– Paris has an excellent public transportation system. You have your pick between the metro, the bus, taxis, or even Uber. The metro would probably be your cheapest bet. It’s clean, convenient, and not hard to navigate. The RER is the train that will get you to and from CDG.
- Food– The food in Paris is some of the best that I’ve ever tasted! From the fresh fruit, to the bread, to the cheese, I loved it all. If you are a picky eater, you’re in luck. You don’t have to worry about having to struggle to find food, because there are lots of places with simple dishes that you will be able to enjoy. On the other hand, if you are an adventurous eater, you are also in luck! I found a lot of things in Paris that I don’t usually see here in the States, like escargo (snails!) and beef tartare. But one thing is for sure, everything I tried, I loved. But whatever you do, PLEASE get some macarons while you’re there!
Excited about your Parisian vacation yet? You should be! If you have any questions before you go, I’d love to answer them for you.